West Chamber’s Celebrate Women event Nov. 9

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By Vicky Gits

 The West Chamber Serving Jefferson County will hold its annual breakfast Nov. 9 to recognize women for their contributions to the community, the impact of their service, inspiration to others and professional accomplishments.

Among the 12 honorees are Margot Zallen, chair of Plan Jeffco; County Commissioner Faye Griffin; and Leah Varnell of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson County.

The Celebrate Women of Jefferson County breakfast will be from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the Denver Marriott West, 1717 Denver West Parkway in Golden. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Tickets are $40 per person or $500 for a corporate table of eight.

Tickets may be purchased on the website, www.Westchamber.org, or by calling 303-233-5555.


Margot Zallen

Retired attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior

After completing her law degree at the DU College of Law, she immediately moved into a cutting-edge legal position as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where she rose through the ranks for 33 years until her retirement last year.

As a senior attorney for FWS, she took on extremely controversial and significant cases, passionately protecting wildlife and endangered species and their habitats in Colorado and nationally. Locally, she chaired the effort to create the Lookout Mountain Water District.

Zallen was a founding member of Plan Jeffco in 1972 and was a leader in the initiative to create the Jefferson County Open Space program. As a negotiator/moderator, Zallen facilitated a settlement on the acquisition and protection of North Table Mountainandwas a founding member of Canyon Area Residents for the Environment, which works to protect the foothills and mountain backdrop of Jefferson County.


Faye Griffin


She was elected to the position in November 2008 and represents District 1 in the northern part of the county. She may be the only elected official in Jefferson County history to be elected to three separate county offices — county commissioner, treasurer, and clerk and recorder. 

Griffinis extensively involved in multiple community initiatives. She serves on the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District Board, the Head Start Policy Council, the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council, the Child and Youth Leadership Commission, the E-911 Board and the Noxious Weed Advisory Board. 

She is an alternate on the Boundary Control Commission, the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., the Criminal Justice Strategic Planning Committee and the C-470 Corridor Coalition.

Griffinwas the driving force behind the Child and Youth Leadership Commission and pioneered the statute that brought the commission into being. 


Leah Varnell

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties


Varnell was instrumental in creating the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties in 2000. Its mission is to recruit, train and manage community volunteers to advocate as officers of the court for the best interests of victims of child abuse and neglect.

Varnell has increased the organization’s revenue by 110 percent and increased staff by 60 percent, enabling the program to serve more children. Varnell has created numerous partnerships with the courts and Human Services to better utilize CASA volunteers and serve youths in need.

Varnell serves on numerous committees and boards including Rewired Inc., Leadership Jefferson County Alumni Association, Jefferson County Good News Coalition, Jefferson County Best Practice Court Team, and the Emancipation Court Steering Committee. Varnell was honored as Staff Person of the Year in 2010 by the State Association of CASA programs, Colorado CASA.

A complete list of the 2012 honorees is as follows: 

• Priscilla  Bohl, Jefferson County Workforce Center

• Faye Griffin, Jefferson County commissioner

• Kathy Hodgson, city of Lakewood

• Joni Inman, Joni Inman Consulting, & Action COACH Business Coaching

• Cheri Jahn, Colorado Housekeeping Services, General Assembly

• Lynn Johnson, Jefferson County Department of Human Services

Jeanne Oliver, Jefferson Center for Mental Health

• Dr. Melinda O'Rourke, Northwest Eye Center and Essence Laser and Wellness

• Betty Proctor, Helping Hearts and Hands/Betty Proctor Fund

• Leah Varnell, CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties

• Dot Wright, Arvada Chamber of Commerce

• Margot Zallen, chair of Plan Jeffco, retired attorney with U.S. Department of Interior